The cabinet on Monday voted to approve Yamina MK Matan Kahana’s reappointment as religious affairs minister, after he gave up the post on Friday in order to return to the Knesset.
Under the so-called Norwegian Law, Kahana was required to resign from his ministerial post in order to become an MK again.
His return to the Knesset meant the ousting of Yamina’s Yomtob Kalfon, who became an MK last year, when Kahana resigned in order to focus solely on his ministerial post.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett reportedly put the move in motion upon learning that Kalfon was planning to defect and vote against the coalition in order to bring about its collapse.
After Kahana’s candidacy was advanced in a telephone vote by cabinet ministers, it will be brought before the Knesset, where a majority is required for the Yamina lawmaker to again become religious affairs minister.
However, following Yamina MK Idit Silman’s decision to resign from the coalition last month, the ruling bloc has only 60 MKs — one less than a majority in the 120-member Knesset, making the vote a difficult task.
In the meantime, the cabinet also approved Kahana’s appointment as deputy religious affairs minister — a step that does not require any approval from the Knesset.
Kalfon broke his silence on Monday, telling Channel 12 that he had been shocked by Bennett’s decision to yank him from the Knesset, while insisting that he had no plans to defect as Silman had done.
Publicly, Bennett has avoided suggesting that Kalfon was going to jump ship.
“I want to thank MK Yomtob Kalfon… for his important service on behalf of immigrant absorption,” Bennett tweeted Saturday.
“Yomtob fought to absorb Jews from all around the world at the same time that he worked tirelessly on behalf of settlements in Judea and Samaria,” the prime minister added. “I am convinced that Yomtob will continue to fill central public roles and will still contribute greatly to the people of Israel and the State of Israel.”
On Friday afternoon, Kahana announced that he would be resigning as minister and returning as a member of the Knesset in order to “strengthen the coalition.”
Army Radio reported on Saturday that Bennett offered Kalfon a variety of positions outside the Knesset in an effort to part ways on positive terms. According to the report, Kalfon had yet to decide if he will accept any of the offers.